Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Burden of Fatherhood

In a previous post, I discussed the nature of being a father.  The source and model of fatherhood is the Father above.  On one hand this brings great comfort because fatherhood is built into the cosmos and our nature.  Grace accompanies this action, and is able to assist the shortcomings we face as sinful men.  Direction is given as  we look to the workings of God in Revelation.

On the other hand, this understanding of fatherhood comes with a heavy burden.  Even among secular psychology, the father plays a crucial role in shaping a child's understanding of God.  This should be no surprise when the truths above are considered.  Whether God is viewed as loving or hateful, just or unfair, erratic or controlled depends largely on dad.  Over the years, I have seen many reject faith in God because they could not get past an angry, abusive, or absent father.

The other great burden of fatherhood is the demonstration of true masculinity.  In an age of prolonged adolescence, a male that appears as a man and not a man-child is the exception.  Boys and girls need to know what a man should look like, and it is incumbent on dad to demonstrate.

Fatherhood should not be taken lightly, but approached as a holy duty that will shape the future of the world.  The man who embraces this journey will be changed as well into the image of His Father.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Giveaway Winners

Thanks to everyone who commented and entered to win the new book.  Also thanks to everyone who tweeted and fb'd the info.  I am excited about the content of the book, and appreciate everyone who has spread the word.

Now for the winners:

Fr. Matthew Thurman
Patrick Robert Easter
DP Chalk
Jerry Willis

Please email your address to me at theron[dot]mathis at gmail[dot]com.

If you enjoy the content of the book, please tell a friend and post a review on Amazon.

You can currently purchase copies of the book from Conciliar Press at

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Purpose of the Old Testament

The Old Testament is designed to prepare us for Christ, and if nothing else, the messiness, the sin, and the squalor of the Old Testament should convince us of man's need for Christ.

This preparation is not merely an intellectual readiness to accept the New Testament.  This would be difficult for us all because our minds are dense.  It is also not a one time preparation that dissipates in meaning once the New is embraced.

It should grind away at our encrusted hearts.  We read with horror at the murders, the adulteries, the idolatry and sit in stunned silence.  If the silence is allowed to work, we can see beneath our veneer and find an inner alliance with those who walk the ancient pages.

Despair may grip our heart so that we cry out to God for salvation.  Only then can the light of resurrection come.  This is the work of the Old Testament.  It is the cross of the New Testament's resurrection.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Rest of the Bible Book Giveaway

I am giving away 5 copies of my new book.  Instructions for how to enter are at the end of the post.

Over the past couple months, I have been teasing my new book that has just been released.

The book is titled, The Rest of the Bible (A Guide to the Old Testament of the Early Church).

Have you ever wondered about those mysterious books, that some Christians have in their Bibles, but are absent from others?  The Rest of the Bible will fill in the details.

This book is an introduction to the books often called the Apocrypha or the Deuterocanonicals.  St. Athanasius called them the Readables.  Why do some Christian's have them and some do not?  What are they about?  When were they written?

Regardless of your opinion of them as Scripture, understanding them will deepen your understanding of the New Testament and the world of Christ and His apostles.  Your faith will be challenged and you will be inspired to live courageously.

Here's an excerpt from the introduction:
"A beautiful widow risks her life to defend her people while men cower in fear.  A young man takes a journey with an archangel and faces down a demon in order to marry a woman seven times widowed.  A reprobate king repents and miraculously turns back toward God.  A Jewish exile plays a game of riddles in a Persian king's court.  Young men and widows become martyrs in the face of idolatry.  Wisdom is detailed and exalted.  Christ is revealed."

So how do you enter the drawing for a free copy?

  1. Comment below:  Tell me why you want one?  What do you know of the "apocryphal" or "deutero-canonical" books?  -AND-
  2. Post the following on Twitter or Facebook:  Enter for a FREE copy of @TheronMathis new book, The Rest of the Bible, at his blog: #TROTB

Winners will be announced on Thursday August 25th.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Track 5 -Illumination

Isaiah stands above the prophets of the OT as an imposing figure.  The length of his prophesy and his tenure create a sense of greatness among the prophets.  The NT relies heavily on his prophetic utterances and the Orthodox OT readings favor his prophecies throughout Lent.

Isaiah was born into the royal family (he was a cousin to the king of Judah).  It was during the reign of King Uzziah that his ministry began.  A vision of God launched his ministry and stamped his life with deep sense of God's majesty and his own unworthiness.  Out of this vision we see a glimmer of the throne of heaven and our own worship is shaped through this vision as we enter alongside the choir of angels and cry, "Holy,Holy,Holy!"

Judea was under constant threat during Isaiah's life.  Assyria was on the rise and after their conquering the Northern Kingdom of Israel, this world power had its site set on Judea.  Through the miracle of God, Judea was spared.  Emerging from further east, Babylon began to develop into a power that would remove Assyria as hegemon and bring Judea to its knees.

In the middle of this turmoil, Isaiah both prophesied hope and judgement.  It is within his prophecies of judgment we find this next soundtrack of the Church.  Isaiah in previous chapters spoke of judgments purpose, the judgment upon Judea's enemies and eventually Israel's own salvation.  In response to the word on judgment, we have a song of faith.

This is the song we sing.  It is a song of illumination and four major aspects of illumination are revealed:

1.  The commandments of God are light (vs.9).  Underneath the rays of the rising sun, Isaiah prays.  As the light begins to spread over the grass and hills, it touches each corner burning away the darkness like the morning fog.  The heart of Isaiah corresponds to this physical change and his burdens seem lighter in the hope of the day.  Out of this experience, he knows the commandments of God have the same effect upon his heart, his nation, and the world.  
2.  God's peace is upon us (vs. 12).  In conjunction with this light, chaos disappears as order and rightness come forth.  This peace is not something man can generate.  As men, we love order and life functions best when chaos is absent.  We try to keep order in place, but it is fluid and often our intentions toward peace have chaotic consequences.  Only God can bring lasting peace because it is directed at the human heart from which actions flows.
3.Salvation will be born in us (v. 18).  Man will struggle in the fallen world with order and chaos.  Death always seems to conquer in spite of our longing to sustain life.  We continue this fight.  Out of this turmoil and pain will come forth salvation.  Like the birth throes of an expectant mother, indescribable joy is delivered through hardship.  This is the inescapable truth of the Cross.  Resurrection can only come through Crucifixion.  
4.  The dead shall arise (v. 10,19).  Though rare in the pages of the OT, the hope of resurrection is present here.  Man is unable through his effort to hold to life, but God brings it forth.  Life from death--order from chaos--light from darkness is His work for the creation He loves.  

Light, peace, salvation, and resurrection are this refrain of this song of illumination, and we sing in hope and joy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Urban Ministry Guides

Recently the OCA held a conference on Urban Ministry.

There is some good stuff on the PDF attached to the site.

Check it out here: Urban Ministry Summit

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tabernacles and Transfiguration

Most Old Testament feasts have a New Testament counterpart. Passover becomes Easter/Pascha. Pentecost retains it name but takes on a Christian character. The Feast of Tabernacles/Booths becomes the Transfiguration of Christ.

After Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt they entered the desert on the road to the Promised Land. Due to the stubbornness of the people, they continued wandering the deserts as nomads for 40 years.

The Feast of Tabernacles at its simplest understanding is a remembrance of this journey. The people were required to build these outdoor booths and live in them during the celebration. I don't know if the parents were excited about erecting a booth and leaving the comforts of a permanent dwelling, but I bet the kids were thrilled. I know my boys get excited about the prospect of camping. The prospects of helping dad build a lean-to for the whole family would be an annual adventure.

Other than a remembrance of their temporary dwellings, the Feast had other characteristics:

  1. This feast was the feast of ingathering, And was third in order of the annual feasts (Exodus 23:16). It was inaugurated on the fifteenth of Tishri (Sept/Oct), and lasted seven days (Leviticus 23:33-44).
  2. The people dwelt in booths formed of the branches of trees in commemoration of their temporary habitations during the journey through the wilderness (Leviticus 23:34-44). This is an image of freedom as opposed to their Egypt-slave dwellings they had escaped.
  3. It was inaugurated by a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:36)
  4. When it occurred in the Sabbatical year, portions of the law Were read publicly each day to men, women, children and Strangers (Deuteronomy 31:10-13)
  5. Celebration of the harvest of grain and wine.
  6. The great themes were God’s provision for the people and God’s dwelling with His people.

The Festival of Booths was a feast of the dwelling of God with men. It was at this feast Jesus reveals Himself to three of His disciples.

Jesus and three disciples (Peter, James & John) ascend a mountain, Jesus transforms and Moses and Elijah appear. You can imagine the shock of the disciples. Peter not knowing what to do, speaks: "Jesus, we are celebrating the Feasts of Booths, Moses and Elijah are here, let's build them booths as well."

Obviously, Peter missed the point, but most of us would have as well. The Father announces from heaven, Jesus is the Son of God. God now dwells bodily among men.

"On the Mountain You were Transfigured,O Christ God,
And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it;
So that when they would behold You crucified,
They would understand that Your suffering was voluntary,
And would proclaim to the world,
That You are truly the Radiance of the Father!"

Sunday, August 07, 2011

To Be a Father

Eph. 3:14 & 15, "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named"

What does it mean to be a father? To find this answer, we must turn to the source. For the Christian, all theology flows from two currents: the Trinity and the Incarnation. For this answer, God the Father is sufficient.

Within the Trinity, each Person is equal and fully God yet each Person is unique. The Father is the source of the Trinity. He is the locus of unity, peace, and love within the Trinity.

Among all things, that we can say a father should be, at the root of his role is one of unity for the family. It is his responsibility to be the one to prevent chaos and keep things united in love within the home.

Christian author Don Miller, writing on manhood says:
"I firmly believe that the job of a man is to bring peace into chaos. A man (and a woman too for that matter) can look into an empty field and see a house. He can look into a woman’s lonely heart and see how easily it could be loved. He can walk into a room and settle a group of wild children. Look at your life and ask yourself this question: Wherever I go, do I leave a trail of peace behind me? If not, then start practicing the art of ordering chaos right now. Is there chaos in your personal life? Clean it up. Is there chaos in your relationships? Clean them up. A man brings peace and order into chaos. You have what it takes to do this, I believe it firmly. You were designed to leave a wake of peace everywhere you go."
This is difficult. For me chaos is much easier. It's a lot easier to stir the pot rather than bring order. To be fathers, in the reflection of the true Father, we must be the source of safety, order, peace, and love for our families.
My bountiful God, I beseech Thee, listen to my humble prayer,. . . foster between us the spirit of understanding and of peace, that no strife, quarrel or misunderstanding, may arise between us.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Leadership Mirror

The Wisdom of Sirach 10:2 As goes the leader of a people, so also are his officials, and all the inhabitants of a city will reflect its ruler. (OSB)

As a leader, self-reflection can be difficult. How do you know when you are off track or moving in the wrong direction? Are you seeing yourself as you truly are? Where are your blindspots?

Those you lead can show you. Not with words, but with their behavior.

What do you admire in people? What actions irritate you? If you see them among those you lead there is a good chance they are part of your character.

This is a scary truth, but helpful. Only by seeing the reality of ourselves can we change.

Let me give an example that you may relate with. I am a father of three boys and regardless of my desire to be their leader, it is part of the job description. They will follow for good or bad.

One behavior that upsets me about my boys is how often they irrationally yell at one another when another wrongs them. Both their mother and I repeatedly correct them but it has been the results have been temporary.

Shortly after I read this verse one event occurred where I caught myself yelling irrationally at one or more of my boys. The mirror of their behavior should have warned me about this, but I failed to look.

Now I am seeking calmer tones and words when the boys behave in upsetting ways. Hopefully I don't walk away from this mirror and forget what I looked like.

This principle may be glaringly true in family life, but any area where you lead or have significant influence this mirror provides a clear reflection of our selves.


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